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Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Big Ten punishes Illini, Spartans for postgame fracas

ESPN.com news services

The Big Ten fined both Illinois and Michigan State $10,000 each and reprimanded Illini coach Ron Zook and Spartans coach John L. Smith after a postgame Illinois celebration at midfield turned ugly.

After Illinois stunned Michigan State, 23-20 on Saturday, the celebration for the Illini (2-3, 1-1) got a little testy, when they rushed to midfield to plant their school flag in the Spartan Stadium turf. Players from both sides briefly traded pushes and shoves before heading to their respective locker rooms.

"The Big Ten and its member institutions, coaches, student-athletes and fans place a high value on competing fairly and with dignity regardless of the competitive outcome," Commissioner James E. Delany said in a statement. "The conduct of the players last week in the postgame environment violated our rules and expectations for student-athletes and as a result we have taken the aforementioned actions."

Zook apologized for his team's actions.

"As I told our football team, we are going to win and lose with class, regardless of what's happened in the past," Zook said. "That's not something that we are going to allow to happen. I will say this, I'm not trying to make any excuses: it was a spontaneous, emotional outbreak. It really was. It wasn't anything planned."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.